7 min read
The following excerpt is from The Staff of LikendisLike Media, Inc. and Cheryl Kimball Start your own food specialty business. buy It Now Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
the Staff at LikendisLike Media Inc. explain how you can start a profitable specialty food business, with information on the hottest trends, information from owners of specialty food businesses, and how you can differentiate your company. In this edited excerpt, the authors offer advice on using social media to promote your business.
Social media offers a fantastic opportunity for all food business owners to meet and engage with targeted audiences filled with thousands of potential customers. If used properly, social media engagement will help your business grow through powerful word of mouth campaigns. Here are eight tips on using social media to your advantage:
1. Before starting an action on social networks, define your target audience. How old are they? Do people in your audience tend to be more feminine than masculine? What groups, organizations or associations are they likely to join? Are they gourmets? Or just people who like to eat healthy or unique foods? Think about the type of people you market and want to use your business, then spend time with them via social media.
2. Once your target audiences have been defined, locate them online. Search Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest for groups, organizations, channels, or discussions that contain the people you’re looking to meet.
3. Use social media research and organizational tools to help you find your audience. Some sites like Facebook and YouTube have great built-in search functions that will help you find your audience. To find your audience on Twitter, try using external sites like Twibes.
4. Once you find your audience on these sites, join their groups and lists so you can follow the conversation. Do not rush with a sales pitch! Listen instead. Learn the etiquette and the main players. Spend some time following.
5. After familiarizing yourself with the etiquette and the people involved, enter into the conversation when and where appropriate. Don’t hide who you are or the company you represent. Become a regular voice in the conversation and offer your friendly expertise to others. Invite people to come back to your website and social media accounts to see what you do and offer.
6. Once you are a regular voice in the conversation, don’t hesitate to do a little promotion. Contests, gifts and raffles can be great tools for interacting with the public and promoting your products. People will love the chance to play in your contest and invite friends to join the fun.
7. As your audience grows, stay creative. Invent new ways to engage your audience and encourage them to invite their friends. Continue to avoid hard selling points. People do not pass ads to their friends. They transmit value.
8. Don’t try to do everything everywhere. Focus on the top two or three social media sites that have been found to contain the largest number of people in your target audience. Remember, social media gives you the opportunity to meet your audience – not sell to your audience. People join these social media networks and participate in friendly interaction and the value it adds to their day. Offer this friendly interaction and watch your audience grow.
Blogs are generally short, personal articles, similar to diaries, that cover a specific topic. Maybe you went to a trade show and discovered an excellent new technique that you will try in the next product you introduce. Or maybe you’ve been to a whipping cream seminar and want to share what you’ve learned.
Like websites, there are templates, mostly free, available to simplify the blogging process – you sign up, create your blog, write your entries, and the template creates an archive for you. Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger are some of the more popular blogging platforms. Some website template services, such as Weebly, offer optional blogging with your website.
Try to include both images and perhaps links to sites with more information in your blog. Again, use it to engage potential customers, but don’t use it as a powerful sales tool. It’s your chance to be personal with existing and potential customers. Give them good information, and even if they don’t become immediate customers, they can use you to organize their event or they can remember you nicely and tell their friends who are looking for a specialty food source to consult your blog.
You can also link your blog to your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, so your friends and acquaintances on those sites will know when you’ve posted a new blog entry. He may appear with an initial copy of the teaser, prompting them to click on the link.
Facebook started out as a way to communicate with your network of friends. However, not only have people always used it to promote their businesses, but Facebook itself has proposed ways to make the social media platform business-friendly. And friends “like” the websites they want to support. So create a Facebook page for your business, but use it sparingly to promote your product directly.
The posts on your Facebook wall can include fun bits you learned about a new type of mustard or the region it comes from, or a blooper packaging experience you did. Check out the pages of other food-related companies and see how they use Facebook to their advantage.
LinkedIn is considered the Facebook of the business world. The general advice is to make your LinkedIn page more formal than a Facebook page. This is where people can go to see your CV, your client list, a photo of you.
LinkedIn will almost certainly be the most likely location where your business is exposed to the corporate world if, for example, your products include something that could be used for corporate gifts. However, no one can see more than the most basic information about you without your approval of a “connection” with them.
It is best to use a Twitter account for your business as an extension of a blog. You can send quick messages of up to 140 characters, a “tweet,” to your subscribers. “You’ve found the best fair trade coffee to use in the next batch of macaroons – check out the Macaroon Mania website for more details!” 123 Front Street “can be messages that promote your service while providing an advantage to readers.
Although there are many photo sharing platforms on social media, Pinterest seems to have landed as the most useful of all, especially for things that are particularly visual and can be captured well in a close-up photo.
When you sign up for Pinterest, you can create a bulletin board on the theme of flavor (think “spicy” or “lemon”) or food (yam, beef). Friends connect to follow your pins. If prospects are looking for an idea (pies to holiday pigs, for example), they can search for the topic on Pinterest and scroll through the photos of ideas.
Instagram is a version based on the image of Facebook (now owned by Facebook). Take a photo and post it on your social media platforms. A key feature is that you can play with the appearance of the photo with filters. Instagram could be a good way to share images of your work or ideas you find.
More and more social media go down every week. The important thing to keep in mind is to use the ones that work best for your business. Certainly, don’t feel you have to get involved in all of them. Above all, don’t get overwhelmed so that you spend more time following tweets and posts on social networks than developing new business.